33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Goldfinch
I discovered Donna Tartt through The Secret History and, although I enjoyed The Little Friend, I didn't feel it was in the same league as her debut. So, I approached this novel with some trepidation but, I am delighted to say, it was unnecessary. This is a masterpiece - in fact, it may well end up considered her greatest work. A huge, sweeping novel, which takes you on a...
Published 8 months ago by S Riaz
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
I really was looking forward to this book, having read the secret history and loved it. I found the start of the goldfinch amazing, the portrayal of theo and his feelings of loss after his mothers death are the best. The reader can not help but be shocked at how he is abandoned by the state, his father and everyone around him.
The story then deteriorates, the death...
Published 6 days ago by Chris
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This could have been a great book as the writing is fantastic but it took ...,
Long winded, unbelievable characters, feeble attempt to connect subplots and characters. This could have been a great book as the writing is fantastic but it took too long to get to any kind of interesting story. Then just when you think the book is over, and are practically beaming with joy for having the patience to keep reading to the end in the hopes that something, anything will happen, there's a rambling 20 page long self indulgent ramble which was completely unnecessary. I bought this because it came highly recommended. Don't be fooled into thinking this will be an exciting thriller full of intrigue, it fails to hit the mark.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The story is three stars - the fourth star is for Donna and the fifth star is hype,
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
After all the hype this book has received I feel it's utterly uncool to not like this book. I tried to. And yes, it's a compelling story written in HD detail geared towards a 9/11 generation. But as in photography: more megapixels don't make the picture automatically a better picture - any noise and clutter is also more visible in HD. May be I just prefer the mystery of grainy black and white images with some blur of movement in them. That is what I am missing in The Goldfinch: flow. It doesn't need to have pace a la MTV, but a story needs to have flow. Flow you can actually perceive. For me this story is like a stream so big you know it's flowing but you can hardly see it.
Then again, Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" ultimately also gained fame despite it's 20-page-per-story-development "pace".
If the amount of detail in a story automatically makes it a better story, it would be easy to write bestsellers but just compiling even more and more detail. Therefore the density of information - for which Donna Tartt is so often lauded - by itself doesn't make a book "great". In my opinion it's the proportion of density and flow. The best example is Donna Tartt's own Secret History: Despite her X-Ray-esque ability to describe characters, ambience and feelings in depth the story never lacked flow. The balance was there. Here, on the other hand, she took from one and added to the other and somehow the recipe doesn't quite taste the same.
It's still sophisticated literature, but I think in a blind test it wouldn't get 4 or 5 stars against other current publications. The fourth star is for Donna and the fifth star is hype, which is deceiving if you expect a 5-star content.
3.0 out of 5 stars Unrequited love, bereavement, depression and addiction,
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
In the six days it took me to read ‘The Goldfinch’ I couldn’t help but think Ms Tartt had set out to write the ‘great American novel’ of our time. The book’s sheer length, and the complexities and upsets of the plot all reminded me of A M Holmes ‘May We Be Forgiven’, and I had a similar sense that the references to Ipods and computer games, and the quoting of truncated text messages, might date the book quickly.
The compelling, moving parts of the book, however, are the timeless parts: the gut-wrenching nature of bereavement (specifically the loss of your mother at an early age), the pain of unrequited love, the attraction of addiction, the envelopment of depression, and the reassurance of friendship. These all gave power to the central character’s musings on chance and patterns in life.
For me, then, the book would have been better if far shorter than its 750 pages, with less attention to the details that sometimes made me sure Ms Tartt had done wonderful research but also tempted to skip a paragraph or two.
Of course this is a publishing sensation – film rights already sold (July 2014) although similar rights on the ‘Secret History’ haven’t produced a film – and the marketing centres on the universal themes emerging from the here-and-now. I just wish they had been allowed to emerge quicker.
Don’t let that stop you reading the book, and I'm sure it won't. As for me, I have the Audiobook and will listen to that in a month or two.
4.0 out of 5 stars A contemplative read,
I have read the authors two previous books and am a fan of her writing, but Don,t really know how to correctly describe this book. There is a crime but it's more than your usual crime fiction.The book is about a boy who is visiting an art gallery with his mother when it is hit by an explosion ( a bomb?). Theo Decker survives but his mother is killed. While Theo is searching for his mother he sees an old man who is injured and dying and recognises him as the man he has seen earlier with a red headed girl looking at the artworks. Theo tries to help the old man who tells him to go, and to take the famous picture of the Goldfinch which his mother loved, with him. The story then takes you through Theo' s life after he leaves with the painting and into adulthood, it follows his relationships , the unrequited love he has for pippa the unsettled life he lives as a teenager with his alcoholic father in Vegas and the friendships he has with Boris, and Hobie who becomes the father figure Theo needs. The story is much more than that and takes you on a journey through the world of art and antiques, but is primarily about loss. The painting of the Goldfinch is a central character and what happens to it once Theo steals it takes many twists and turns. Not exactly a page turner, but interesting, enjoyable and quite philosophical and thought provoking at the end. Give it a go, and then read the other two books .
204 of 246 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Expectations for our times,
This review is from: The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) (National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists) (Hardcover)
Running to almost 800 pages, The Goldfinch is going to require a substantial investment of your time, but I think anyone would be prepared to give Donna Tartt's new novel that much. What you might not realise until it is too late however is the amount of personal investment a book like this demands. By the time you get to the even half-way through the extraordinary 14 year journey that has taken Theo Decker to Amsterdam, the dawning realisation that this has to eventually come to an end suddenly hits you. Drawing out the inevitable isn't possible either as there's not a moment of The Goldfinch that doesn't have you completely in its thrall, reluctant to put it down and feeling bereft at its conclusion.
The Goldfinch is a masterpiece in the classic style of the Bildungsroman. The recounting of Theo Decker's unfolding awareness of the world, its complications, its criminality and injustice, the lack of stability in his life, his sense of being isolated and his ability to love are all affected by one significant event of terrorism in the modern world that skews his view of reality and effectively leaves him an orphan. What follows is a remarkably detailed account that covers every aspect of Theo's life in detail and the storytelling is never anything less than wonderful. It's almost Dickensian in scope and treatment, the book drawing obvious parallels with Great Expectations and even making references and nods to Oliver Twist, but in its own way it is also a thoroughly modern work. It's more than just a character or psychological study, it's more than just a series of escalating incidents that eventually reach crime thriller proportions, but it takes in a whole range of relevant cultural, moral, social and familial circumstances and tries to consider how one can make sense of it all.
What ties it all together and what is the one constant in Theo's turbulent life is the Dutch Master painting of The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius (1622-1654), which accidentally and completely illegally comes into his possession. The painting is many things to Theo, something that he can't shake off or deny, but rather feels a deep affinity for and a responsibility towards it. It's a reminder of the significant moment when the world lost all sense, but it's also a lifeline that he clings to throughout his difficult and troubled adolescence, serving as a connecting element that provides a sense of continuity, connecting, linking elements that would otherwise seem random twists of fate and chance. This is however so much more than just a clever literary touch, but a vital and meaningful element that gives the book distinction and a sensibility beyond the pure narrative storytelling delights of Donna Tartt's brilliant writing.
The Goldfinch is itself a masterful work, one that is quite capable of fulfilling the same function as Carel Fabritius's painting, capable of holding a great deal of meaning and affection for the individual reader in how it proposes a way of viewing and making sense of the questions of fate and adversity that life throws at us. I don't think there's anything new here that Dickens didn't already cover so comprehensively in Great Expectations, but the world is a much more complicated place now and it needs someone like Donna Tartt to help try put some kind of order and meaning on it.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated,
This book received so much attention on magazines and newspapers, such rave reviews, I could not wait to start reading it. I first downloaded the kindle preview and enjoyed it, so I went on and purchased it. Unfortunately the rest of the book was not as good as the beginning. I can't say exactly when I stopped liking it, it was probably when Theo moved to Vegas, at about 30% in the kindle book. I kept going, hoping it would change and get more interesting, because so many people liked it that I thought, there must be something to it...I eventually did manage to finish it and actually, the ending was the worst part. But first the book. I just couldn't like Theo. I first felt sorry for him because of course, when a child loses his mom like that, who wouldn't. But then the part in Vegas was so long, so irritating, I couldn't care less for those endless descriptions of how he and Boris would get high and throw up on the carpet! I got the picture, no need in my opinion to spend so many pages on such descriptions. I found Boris' just as unlikable, with his annoying accent, and how he always knew everything better because he had been through so much. The story goes on with bad things happening to good people (Was the part about his old building really necessary?) and Theo who doesn't seem to be able to get a grip and keeps making irresponsible decisions. Hobie is so nice that he can't be real. Then finally the ending: that endless pretentious philosophizing on art, life and everything else...coming from this junkie? No thanks.
Two stars instead of one because I appreciated the broadness of vocabulary which Donna Tartt surely does have. As a non-native English speaker this is something I am always looking for in a book, as it helps me improve my language skills.
Glad to be moving to a new book.
104 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to rate highly enough - Donna Tartt's masterwork,
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
I am one of the many people who have been waiting for years for Donna Tartt to bring out a novel equal to her first - The Secret History. Her Second Novel, The Little Friend, did nothing for me although I ploughed through it waiting for the same literary buzz that The Secret History gave me. Now at last, Donna Tartt has met my expectations by producing this fantastic, nearly 800 page novel, The Goldfinch.
I was fortunate enough to see a review copy of the book and while I was initially daunted by the scale of the book (and not exactly attracted by the blurb on the cover), I started to read it and was immediately drawn in and captivated. There is something about good writing which makes is just as satisfying as a good meal. I found a sort of nourishment going on in my head as I read through Tartt's elegant prose. It's not just the elegance however, it's the sheer pulsating interest of the book - this is the ultimate "good read" sought after by book-lovers the world over. Even the first chapter has an extremely dramatic event at it's core, and straightaway you find yourself wondering "where can this go to next"?
There is a sort of Dickensian feel to this book (not that it's in any way archaic in subject of style) for like Dickens, Tartt can delve into huge amount of detail without being boring. Although the book has an epic scale, it can also seem microscopic in the way the author recounts small episodes. A tour round an art gallery makes you feel that you are there yourself, and nobody reading this book will be able to resist seeking out the painting of the Goldfinch on the website of The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in order to ponder the predicament of this tiny bird, chained to its perch.
At the centre of the book is the life of young Theo Decker, a young boy who finds himself orphaned (what a picture of grief Tartt portrays in the first part of the novel!) but then adopted into a wealthy family in Greenwich Village where the course of his life follows unusual roads. Theo is led first into a level of petty criminality which later develops into something far more serious. Along the way, Theo is inducted into the mysteries of the antiques trade and the arts of renovation, all beautifully described by the author). Later, his disreputable father drags him off to Las Vegas, which turns out to be a far more alarming existence in the depths of "Sin City".
There is so much in this book - few people will not be fascinated by his Greyhound Bus trip back to New York, or much later on, by the serious criminality which yields huge financial returns as Theo gets embroiled in a dangerous world of gangsterism in Amsterdam. This is only a fraction of the events contained in this book however, and I wouldn't even try to mention more for fear of spoiling it.
There are so many reviews of this much-awaited book that it's easy to be put off reading it. I would urge you to put aside the views of others and dive into this lengthy but totally absorbing world. I think that like myself, despite it's great length you will be wanting to spin it out to prevent it from ending too soon. A masterly work of fiction well worth waiting for.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could have been 200 pages shorter!,
The first part was definitely a page turner but I thought the second part had too much detail. Characters came to life and one really liked and admired some of the minor ones
4.0 out of 5 stars Why the controversy?,
Coming a bit late to the party here, I read the novel aware of most of the views expressed, and the deep divisions between reviewers--the majority hailing it as a masterpiece, while a few dissenters slam it. Far be it from me to challenge the professionals, but I think the qualities and faults are pretty clear. No-one surely can deny the charm of Tartt's style, or her ability to set up an intriguing situation (the qualities which made 'The Secret History' so popular). But the problem with an intriguing set-up is that it tends to promise more than it can deliver-- I felt this even with 'The Secret History', which I loved. Here, the last 100 pages are a bit of a mess (maybe that's going slightly too far-- let's say complex and convoluted without enough depth to balance them). But in terms of a reader's pleasure there are whole stretches that are outstanding--for me, particularly the Las Vegas section. Since my taste is always for a novel that tries to do too much rather than too little, I can't help warming even to the excesses. Yes, editors could have taken the scissors to it--but I think they would have taken its heart away--its sense of the richness and complexity of
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very laborious,
there were times when I enjoyed the book but on the whole I found the descriptions so lengthy they bored me and as a result the book didn't grip me.
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Paperback - 5 Jun 2014)